Are all bank apps made equal?

prelin —  April 25, 2013 — Leave a comment

Now that ABSA has launched their banking app all the major consumer banks in South Africa have applications for all the major platforms including Blackberry, Android, iPhone and Windows Mobile. However, are all these apps equal or do some provide better service or convenience?

Despite the fact that FNB has a 21 month lead in banking apps there has been a large amount of improvement with various apps from all the banks. We’re going to look at a few factors and see how everyone compares:

Platforms:

ABSA is unfortunately worst off in this arena with apps only available for iOS and Android. Considering the high level of Blackberry penetration in South Africa we can see that missing out on a platform such as this is potentially very limiting. FNB is the only bank with an app for all versions of Blackberry and Nokia phones however Standard Bank is the only one to support the fairly small user base of Windows Phone.

Functionality:

All the apps can perform the basics such as making payments, viewing balances and transfer however both the FNB and ABSA apps fall down compared to the Nedbank app that can perform certain niche payment options such as future and recurring payments as well as multiple transactions at one. As mentioned, these are fairly niche so the benefit is relatively negligible. It’s all pretty much the same here.

Prepaid:

An important use of the apps is the ability to buy the likes of prepaid airtime, electricity and data bundles. ABSA only offers prepaid airtime while FNB offers all three and Nedbank doesn’t allow for prepaid. We feel that prepaid electricity is the most useful of all these features (without airtime you can’t use the app anyway) so the FNB app wins here.

Wallets:

The FNB app allows for geo payments which is massively useful when making a payment. All in all these services can use payment services such as Nedbank’s M-PESA for sending money.

In conclusion these are all useful services but don’t expect anything more beyond basic banking. That said, simplified access to basic banking is worth it and we’re big fans of the banks approach to mobile apps.

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